Rather Defends Memos ... But


Dan Rather tol Broadcasting & Cable Friday he believes documents used in a controversial 60 Minutes story were “authentic,” but he did open the door to the possibility that he’d been duped.

The memos allege a young George W. Bush received preferential treatment when he was in the National Guard during the Vietnam War. Rather, who was the correspondent, says, “Document analysis isn’t a pure science. It’s not fingerprints or DNA. It’s a very crude art. You have one expert testifying one thing and one another.”
But neither Rather nor CBS News was backing down. “Unless someone shows us definitive proof that the documents are not authentic, then we don’t see any reason to carry on a conversation with the professional rumor mill.” Some experts say the memos use a font and have other characteristics that weren’t available on typewriters in 1972.
Rather says the memos alone were not enough to substantiate charges made in the piece but noted that CBS also presented witnesses who knew the memos’ author, the late Lt. Col. Jerry Killian, and were familiar with his views.
“The questions raised in the report about then-Lieutenant Bush are serious and legitimate,” says Rather. “Did a wealthy Texas oilman go to the Texas Speaker of the House and ask for preferential treatment? Did Bush refuse a direct order from his military superior, and was he suspended for not meeting the standards of the Air Force?”